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Call Kurtis: Free Rental Car Insurance — Only If You Have the Right Credit Card

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Kurtis Ming Kurtis Ming
Eight-time Emmy Award winner Kurtis Ming is CBS13's consumer...
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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Many of us turn down car insurance when we rent a car, thinking our credit cards have us covered, but Call Kurtis has learned consumers may not be covered after all.

All four major credit card companies offer some kind of rental car insurance, but we’ve learned there are some notable exceptions.

Visa, American Express and Discover cards all offer some protection, although if your own car insurance covers you, you must turn in your claim to that company first. Mastercard only offers protection if have a Platinum card or above.

But even then, the type of vehicle you rent may not be covered.

Vacationing with his family for two weeks, Joe Earl got into a rental car fender bender.

“I ran into a pole, backing up,” he said. “I definitely didn’t anticipate that in part of the vacation budget.”

The Chevrolet Impala he rented was left with a caved-in rear bumper and a broken tail light — the cost for repairs more than $650.

Earl said his car insurance covered most of it, and his Discover card picked up his $500 deductible, so the fender bender didn’t cost him a penny.

“It is free, but it definitely take a bit of documentation that you have to fill out,” he said.

But not all cards have the same protection.

“A van, an SUV, or a truck may be excluded by your credit card company,” said Nancy Kincaid of the California Department of Insurance.

While most basic credit cards cover cars, none cover trucks, pickups, many vans or SUVs with eight or more seats.

If you wreck one of these, you’re on your own.

“Go to the exclusions, because that’s usually covered pretty clearly,” Kincaid said.

“You don’t ever anticipate being in this situation,” Earl said.

Planning ahead for future vacations, he plans to use his Discover card again the next time he rents a car.

“I’m glad I was covered,” he said.

Most credit cards will only serve as secondary coverage, so if you’re covered in some other way, that will have to kick in first.

Some cards will cover you if the car is stolen but not all of them. You will want to read the terms of your card before you decline that rental car coverage.

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